N.E.mation! set to draw on Singapore's strengths

The popular N.E.mation! competition is here again

CHAMPION: Its winning entry, Strength In Reflection, featured 120 images to show Singapore's achievements.
CHAMPION: The team from Beatty Secondary School visiting Pixar Animation Studios in the US.
HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE: Last season, Animagine held workshops for the top 20 teams, teaching them about 2D digital animation and stop-motion animation.

N.E.mation! is back for its 11th season.

Organised by Nexus, the Central National Education Office, the competition encourages students to express their thoughts on Total Defence (TD).

The annual digital animation competition started in 2007, after the success of commissioned TD animation clips featured in the National Day Rally in 2006.

Since then, the competition has reached over 15,000 student participants.

This season's theme of Together We Keep Singapore Strong encourages students to submit ideas on why it is important to keep Singapore resilient. They should consider how and what they can do to help the nation achieve this.

Students from the same secondary school, junior college or centralised institution are to form teams of three or four members and register online by submitting at least one story idea.

Last year's champion from Beatty Secondary School won with its clip, Strength In Reflection. It featured 120 images displayed on a praxinoscope, an animation device with an inner circle of mirrors, to show Singapore's achievements.

The team won a sponsored trip to the US, where they visited renowned animation studios such as Pixar Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Animation and Warner Brothers.

This season, 100 story entries will be shortlisted and teams will be narrowed down to the top 10 after three rounds of selections.

Experience in animation is not required as training in story creation and development, animation techniques and other relevant skills will be provided for shortlisted teams. Learning journeys and talks by the competition's partner agencies are also lined up for all 100 teams.

Only the top 10 finalist teams will be producing the animation clips, with guidance from animation-based learning company Animagine.

The clips will be judged next year by the public and a panel of industry professionals, including Mr Roger Lee from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Mr Jason Ho from Blue Sky Studios.

Miss Universe Singapore 2011 winner now has passion for fashion

Valerie Lim followed in the footsteps of her mum in the same pageant


Valerie Lim has "beauty" in her blood.

The Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2011 winner took part in the competition after prompting from her mother, who had joined the same pageant in 1981 and won a spot in the Top 15.

Lim started her own pageant journey when she was crowned Miss Earth Singapore in 2009. Two years later, she took part in MUS.

She recalled how, over four months, the organisers trained and groomed the contestants for the finals, which was a closed-door event at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Lim, 31, told The New Paper: "Through those months spent together, we grew so close. Many people have the misconception that pageant girls are really catty, but no, everyone was super nice.

"I shared with them what I learnt from Miss Earth and everyone worked together to help each other out, even with walks and poses."

This year, Singapore's most prestigious pageant is back in a big way, with new presenter Singapore Turf Club and new imaging partner Canon Singapore on board.

And for the first time, The New Paper will be MUS 2016's official media partner and co-organiser alongside the Miss Universe Singapore Organisation.

The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and a Canon camera worth $1,000. Registration is now open to women aged 18 to 27. (See report)

Lim, who married a Taiwanese-American businessman last year, said: "In previous years, when it was televised, a lot of the girls had more opportunities to go into the media industry. In my case, it still opened a lot of doors for me, so I'm not complaining."

Through the connections she made during her pageant days, Lim is now pursuing her passion for fashion.

IN THE FAMILY:Valerie Lim's mother taking part in Miss Universe Singapore 1981. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF VALERIE LIM, TNP FILE

After graduating from the National University of Singapore with an honours degree in psychology, she worked as a senior behaviour therapistat Autism Partnership.


Following the international pageant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, she spent the next two years as a social media and image consultant while also blogging and modelling.

During modelling stints in the Philippines, she met several designers, whom she works closely with today.

Last November, she moved to Manila and has since started Fashion Exchange International, a fashion and brand management platform for Asean designers.

MUS, she said, taught her valuable lessons.

She said: "When it comes to pageants, you have to have a lot of discipline.

"Also, putting yourself out there and being vulnerable really helps thicken your skin... and (improve) yourself.

"Be open-minded and don't be afraid of changing and learning new things."

Parents of murdered woman didn't discuss her love life here

Parents of murdered engineer say she was a filial daughter who once asked mum to live with her in S'pore

KILLED: Ms Cui Yajie was last seen on the night of July 11.

She was a filial daughter who kept in close contact with her parents through phone messages and calls to China.

But Ms Cui Yajie, 31, who had come to Singapore to work as an engineer, did not discuss her love life with them.

Her retired father, Mr Cui Jin, 61, who used to work in banking, told Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao over the phone from Tianjin, China: "My wife and I had a hands-off approach to (our daughter's) love life.

"She was a grown-up and had her own life."

As a result, they did not know if she had a boyfriend here. And they have not seen the accused, who was charged with her murder on Thursday.

On Wednesday night, what were believed to be the remains of Ms Cui's body were uncovered at Lim Chu Kang Lane 8, after a man who was arrested in connection with her disappearance led police to the site.

Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, 48, has since been charged with the murder of Ms Cui.

He is accused of killing her between 8am and 10.11am on July 12 at Gardens by the Bay East in Marina Bay.

Ms Cui's parents said their daughter had sent them a text message on July 11, the day she was last seen, before her colleagues reported her missing to the police.

In the message, Ms Cui asked them about their holiday in Xinjiang, China.

It was the last time the couple heard from their only child.

The next day, Ms Cui's colleague called to tell them that she had not turned up for work or returned home, and was uncontactable.

Said Mr Cui: "We're thousands of miles away from Singapore and we couldn't do anything.

"The only thing we could do was ask her colleague to make a police report about her disappearance."

The couple told Wanbao that Ms Cui went to Singapore in 2012 after finishing her studies in the UK and working in Beijing for two years.

Ms Cui's mother said she was a filial daughter who would return to China to visit them at least once a year bearing gifts.

She said: "She was very filial. She knew that her father's health was not good, so whenever she came back, she would bring back health supplements for him and bird's nest and cordyceps (for me)."

The couple said Ms Cui last visited them in June and had been planning to visit again in October.


Ms Cui's mother said her daughter enjoyed working in Singapore, and had never thought of quitting because the pay was good.

Ms Cui had rented a flat with a few friends in Holland Village and had invited her mother to live with her.

But Madam Cui said she could not get used to the local weather and declined.

When Wanbao knocked on the door of the Holland Village flat several times on Thursday, nobody answered.

Neighbours told Wanbao that the occupants of the flat had been living there for about a year, but did not interact much with others.

A neighbour also said that the police visited the flat on Tuesday and Wednesday and went inside to conduct investigations.

On Wednesday evening, the police cordoned off the area in Lim Chu Kang for close to 22 hours after the gruesome discovery.

They ended their search on Thursday around 5.30pm and were seen removing the cargo canopy of a lorry and a shovel from the scene.

Wanbao understands that Ms Cui's body was burned and that the police combed the area to find the burnt remains.

The police also conducted investigations at the Bay East Garden carpark at Gardens by the Bay where people saw them holding a photo of Ms Cui and asking people in the area if they had seen her.

A security guard at the carpark told Wanbao that the police had asked the management that on Wednesday afternoon for closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the carpark.

Wanbao reported that while Mr Cui was calm throughout the phone interview, his wife was agitated and could often be heard sobbing.

The couple intend to fly to Singapore to settle their daughter's matters, and to find out more about her death.

They are sorting out their travel papers and the earliest they can arrive here is Monday.

Mr Cui said: "Although we don't have relatives in Singapore, we must find out the truth about what happened to our daughter.

"We must know why she died."

When his wife learnt from Wanbao that the penalty for murder in Singapore is death, she said she wished the murderer could be "hacked into a thousand pieces".

We must find out the truth about what happened to our daughter. We must know why she died.

- Mr Cui Jin, father of Ms Cui Yajie


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PUB officer charged in $2m case

Mohamed Sa'ad Mohamed Ali , 42, a technical officer with the national water agency, PUB, was charged on Friday (July 22) with 718 counts of cheating - involving about $2 million - and nine charges of money laundering.

A technical officer with national water agency PUB was yesterday charged with 718 counts of cheating - involving about $2 million - and nine charges of money laundering.

Mohamed Sa'ad Mohamed Ali, 42, is alleged to have deceived various employees of PUB into believing that the quotations he produced were genuinely sourced from the open market when they were not.

He is also alleged to have dishonestly induced the employees to approve multiple quotations. The purchases were allegedly awarded to businesses controlled by him.

Most of the alleged offences, involving small-value purchases, took place between 2009 and 2012.

Sa'ad, represented by Mr Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed, is also accused of using the benefits from his criminal conduct. The amounts ranged from $18,640 to $74,870.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Aug 18.

Bail of $80,000 was allowed.

PUB said that in mid-2012, its internal audit discovered anomalies in small-value purchases at Choa Chu Kang Waterworks.

Sa'ad, who joined PUB in 2000, has been suspended since August 2012.

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